British abstract painter Wilhelmina Barns-Graham (1912-2004) played a key role in the development of modern abstract art in Britain. This new paperback edition of Lynne Green’s classic monograph completes the story of the artist’s life and work with a new Coda covering Barns-Graham’s final years, which draws for the first time on the artist’s personal diaries and notebooks.
Born in Fife, Scotland, for over sixty years Barns-Graham lived and worked in St Ives, at the heart of the avant-garde group of artists who made the town internationally famous. Arriving in Cornwall just months after the modernists Ben Nicholson, Barbara Hepworth and Naum Gabo, Barns-Graham was quickly absorbed into their inner circle. She was subsequently one of the Crypt Group of young moderns, and a founder member of the breakaway Penwith Society of Arts.
Green examines the importance of Barns-Graham’s national tradition and of her teachers at Edinburgh School of Art, particularly the Scottish Colourists William Gillies and John Maxwell. Barns-Graham’s developing commitment to abstraction is discussed in detail: never afraid to experiment, her work is revealed as embodying many of the issues central to post-war abstractart. Barns-Graham continued to work right up to her death with the energy and enthusiasm usually associated with the young. Towards the end of her life her art finally started to attract the attention it deserved.